Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

What’s in a Name? A Curiously Open Thread

It depends what it is, of course.  

If it is Sanchez, you are a legal Resident Alien in Arizona and you get swept up in an event involving the police you had better have Your Papers with you.  

If it is Blask, not so much.

I’ve been an illegal alien, but then I’m white so it never occurred to me to be concerned that would come up.  I worked with a bunch of legal Ethiopian Canadian immigrants who had much more to worry about than I did.  Donna and I had separated back in the eighties (young, stupid) for a year and a half, and when we got back together and I was in South Carolina and she was in Toronto the fact that my old Canadian Resident Alien status wasn’t any good didn’t stop me for a second.  I’d lived there for ten years previously, so I just moved back first then waited for my Visa to come through, parking cars for a living until I could get an over-the-table job.

It was all effectively innocent.  My wife lived there, I did get a new visa.  In the end my little indiscretion worked out well for Canada, the job I got after parking those cars was where I dreamt up the BorderWare Firewall Server which a bunch of Canadians made a company around and later sold to an American company for US$200M, effectively tipping the US/Canadian trade balance a measurable hair in Canada’s favor.  Everyone wins.

But if I had the exact same story and had grown up in Mexico instead of Canada, gone to high school in Arizona instead of Ontario, married my teenage sweetheart in Tuscon instead of Toronto, my name was not Blask but Sanchez and my hair was black not blonde my eyes brown not blue my English a hundred times better than my French but still accented and awkward and I was parking cars by Tuscon City Hall waiting for my new visa to come through…

Well, that would be entirely different.  Prison and separation would loom around every corner.  Consequences beyond the imagination could trip open and spill all over me at a moment’s notice.

Not for Chris Blask, though.  Chris Blask is at home from Tuscon to Toronto – white, fluent, blond and relaxed.  The very idea that a traffic stop would involve anyone asking me to prove my citizenship doesn’t cross my mind.  More importantly, it doesn’t cross my mind because no officer is going to ask Chris Blask for his passport, and no one is going to ask Donna Blask for her green card either.  

Even though she carries it in her wallet.

Canadian citizen Donna Blask will never be asked for her green card by the police in Arizona.  

American citizen Donna Sanchez will.


  1. Shaun Appleby

    Is why, demographically, Republicans seem determined on electoral suicide.  I mean, the Tea Party is going to vote Republican, right?  Anyway?

  2. spacemanspiff

    Once I opened my mouth it would be clear I wasn’t “one of them.”

    This is complete bullshit.

  3. creamer

    Even Tom Tancredo is speaking of “overeach”. John McCain has walked back from his crazy immigrant driver talk, his daughter is more unequivocal in her opposition.

    This law leaves me sad.


  4. Elch

    I grew up having my papers at hand any time and – I don’t know why – I’m still doing it.

    As an alien I have never been asked for my passport over there except for buying beer.

    Obviously I must fit into the “category”.

    Instead I have been asked several times if I’m an alien just by letting people look at me.

    All in all the story in your post would be valid over here as well with a little difference and depending on the region. You could have the same name, look the same way but will still be categorized based on the place you were originally born or grew up – East or West.

    Hmm this reads like a quiz.

  5. dtox

    You miss conferences because you need to be security cleared every time you want to travel to the US, and that may take an unbounded amount of time. Two months and still going this time around.

    I feel guilty for really looking forward to when I can ditch my Pakistani citizenship for a shiny red UK passport.  

  6. HappyinVT

    race needs to know that Arizona is moving on the education front as well:

    …in a move that was more covert until the Wall Street Journal uncovered it, the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with “heavy” or “ungrammatical” accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes. HuffPo


    …the Arizona legislature passed a bill yesterday outlawing ethnic studies programs:

    HB 2281 would make it illegal for a school district to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity “instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

    It also would ban classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

    The measure is directed at the Tuscon Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department, which school officials say provides only “historical information” – not “ethnic chauvanism” as the state school superintendent has alleged. One state lawmaker tried to show how ridiculous the legislation is by proposing that schools be barred from teaching about 9/11 because it would result in hatred toward Arab-Americans; the measure failed. Think Progress

    FWIW, the MLBPA has come out against the AZ law.  No word on the 2011 All-Star game.

  7. DTOzone

    bet he got banned from them.

    Jerome asked someoen if Robert Kuttner, a critic of Obama from the left, was a PUMA;

    If you can’t see the difference

    between you/tarheel and this blog and Kuttner, you need someone to hit you in the head.

    For example, Kuttner never endorsed Hillary Clinton and then turned around and criticized the administration as too Clintonian. He criticized Hillary for the same reason he criticizes Obama now.

    Another words, he was consistent and didn’t try to spin arguments that fit his narrative. You, on the other hand, have proven to take whatever happens and somehow spin it in order to make an the argument that Obama and the Democrats are in peril, because you’re still angry that he won. You try to criticize him from the left, which is fair, but expect us to forget that your criticizing the same positions your candidate advocated. You convienently disappear whenever something good happens, only to reappear when something bad happens with some snidy childish sarcastic post where you do a bad job hiding your selfish glee and enjoyment in watching the Democratic Party suffer.

    I don’t care about the primaries because I know your endorsement of Hillary was nothing more than your illogical hatred for Obama, I just enjoy pointing out what a hypocrite you are and how terrible you are at hiding your illogical hatred for Obama.

    It really kills you that he’s been so successfull, hasn’t it?

  8. HappyinVT

    All-Star game if it is played in AZ.  The Phoenix Suns will play in jerseys with “Los Suns” tomorrow in part because of the immigration law and because it’s Cinco de Mayo.

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